Research by Inmarsat, a leader in global, mobile satellite communications, reveals that skills shortages are putting a brake on IoT innovation, inhibiting the adoption of the technology and the effectiveness of IoT deployments across businesses. These findings underline how little progress has been made in addressing skills shortages since the company’s 2018 report pinpointed that the skills gap was top barrier to successful IoT deployments. This remains the case, with oil and gas organisations needing to do more to upskill, bring in new talent or work with outsourcers with the requisite skills.
According to the research, based on interviews with 450 global respondents across the agriculture, electrical utilities, mining, oil and gas, and transport and logistics sectors, organisations don’t always have the skills they need to fully utilise their IoT projects. A lack of in-house skills remains the top barrier to IoT deployment for over a third (34 per cent) of oil and gas respondents in the study. In terms of the specific skill sets businesses need, over half (55 per cent) of oil and gas respondents stated that they lacked cyber-security talent, equalled by a need for additional staff with experience and skills in connectivity technology (55 per cent), data science and analytics (53 per cent) and technical support (46 per cent).
Many oil and gas businesses also lack the strategic IoT skills needed in the C-suite or senior leadership team to integrate fully IoT into their overall business strategies, with less than one in three (28 per cent) of oil and gas respondents claiming to have all the skills needed at this level. Underlining the importance of having a strategic approach to IoT at leadership level and the right policies in place to support this, the research shows those oil and gas organisations with a formal IoT strategy have far more strategic support for IoT at board level (45 per cent, compared to only 11 per cent of those without one).
Damian Lewis, Market Development Manager at Inmarsat Enterprise said: “It is evident that for oil and gas companies, there is a clear gap in the skills needed to fully capitalise on the uses of IoT data in their operations. This is most pronounced when it comes to integrating IoT projects effectively. Sourcing off-the-shelf solutions, is one way oil and gas companies can close this gap, yet respondents in this sector are less likely to be aware of how such solutions can meet their needs. So, it seems IoT providers have a role to play in improving the situation too. Enhancing their offer to the sector and ensuring the industry understands it will be central to unlocking the full value of IoT in oil and gas.”
Commenting on the findings, Mike Carter, President of Inmarsat Enterprise said: “Our latest research shows that, despite strong levels of IoT adoption across the board, skills shortages continue to be the top barrier to industrial IoT adoption. It is particularly concerning to note that, amongst those organisations lacking specific skills, almost half are missing security, data science and connectivity technology skills. To help plug these fundamental IoT skills gaps, it is clear that more businesses need to develop formal IoT strategies, to prioritise IoT at the boardroom level and to develop better relationships with IoT service providers.
“The IoT skills gap is a major concern for today’s enterprises. For IoT to be a sustained success, access to the relevant skill sets is needed at all levels. Without all these skill sets in place, businesses will continue to struggle to make the best use of the data they gather, to integrate IoT projects into the wider organisation and benefit from the transformative role that IoT can play in the global supply chain. If organisations do not have the resources to plug these skills gaps internally, they must look to external partners to provide the necessary skills.
“Inmarsat’s Enterprise business is focused on the provision of IoT connectivity to business-critical applications and to remote places via our industry-leading ELERA network. Our expert partners, including skilled solution providers from our Application and Solution Provider Programme, are helping to connect IoT solutions providers with commercial land customers across the globe.”
The study also reveals when it comes successfully integrating IoT into their operations, only a third (32 per cent) of oil and gas organisations have the needed skills in house. For ongoing support and maintenance of IoT projects in oil and gas, this drops to under a quarter (23 per cent) and only 1 in 5 (19 per cent) in procurement have the required skills to effectively support IoT projects.
Despite acknowledging the clear gap oil and gas organisations have between the skills held in house and those needed to deploy IoT projects, only a minority turn to outsourcing as a solution. Overall, just over a third (34 per cent) of oil and gas respondents typically look to partner with an IoT service provider to support an end-to-end solution and work with them to plan, implement and maintain it. The largest organisations (over 5,000 employees) and businesses in North America and the Middle East are more likely to partner with IoT service providers (60 per cent, 52 per cent and 45 per cent, respectively), whereas fewer businesses in Russia and the Stans and the APAC region use such providers (25 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively). Those businesses lacking the optimal mix of skill sets to select, deploy and utilise their IoT projects need to work more closely with expert service providers to plug their IoT skills gaps to get the best results out of their IoT projects.